writing for children

I put it in a song…

My kids always ask what I want for Christmas. I give them the SAME answer every time – so this year, I decided to put it into song. Note: you have to sing it to the tune of “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”.

I Want a Clean and Happy House for Christmas
by Donna Earnhardt (me!)

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas
Only a clean and happy house will do
Clutter steals my joy – I lose my peace and poise
I need a clean and happy house that we can all enjoy

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas!
Instead it’s coated in a messy hue
The house needs a scrub – it’s long overdue!
We need a giant breakthrough – can we
get a cleaning crew?

I can see my house on Christmas morning –
No more muddled mess!
Oh what joy I will feel, if my dream gift is revealed
and see the clutter gone –
Poof!
No more stress!

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas
Only a clean and happy house will do
No dirty dishes! No piles of stinky clothes
I want a happy house that’s not offensive to my nose
And everyone who lives here wants that, too!

Let’s donate lots of stuff, we really have enough!
But then again – I must confess that letting go is tough

If only we could put this mess in a garage
or hide it all somehow, but man… I stink at camouflage!

I can see my house on Christmas morning –
No more muddled mess!
Oh what joy I will feel, if my dream gift is revealed
and see the clutter gone –
Poof! No more stress!

I want a clean and happy house for Christmas
Only a clean and happy house will do
No dirty dishes, not piles of stinky clothes
I want a happy house that’s not offensive to my nose
And everyone who visits wants that, too!

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writing for children

To the Naysayers

My beautiful babies amaze me. They are all smart, intelligent, and creative young ladies, intent on chasing their dreams and using the gifts God has given them.

My mama and daddy always told my sister and me that we could do anything we set our minds to. They told us that God had given us gifts to use — and we needed to use them or lose them! They taught us not to listen to the naysayers… the people who shout, “You can’t do that!” and the negative Nellie’s who whisper, “That’s not possible.”

The poem below is meant to remind my daughters of the TRUTH of scripture that declares… “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!”

My daughters are children of the King, the Lord Almighty. His Holy Spirit lives, breathes, and moves in them! They are loved beyond all measure and were created to do GREAT things. This poem is to remind them to remember these truths — no matter what other people and voices try to speak over them.

Huge thanks to my mom and dad for always teaching us who we are in Christ… and reminding us to NEVER give up.

*** *** ***

To the Naysayers
by Donna Earnhardt

Don’t tell me what a girl should do
or try to force your point of view
on me because I don’t know you
and frankly, you don’t have a clue-
you don’t know who
you’re talking to.
Don’t tell me what a girl should do.

Don’t tell me what my dreams should be.
They fill my idea-galaxy
with worlds of creativity-
so keep your negativity
a universe away from me.
Don’t tell me what my dreams should be.

Don’t underestimate my mind.
I’m different, yes, but still designed
the same as YOU – but not confined
to tired tropes that
make you blind
Don’t underestimate my mind.

Casey jumping

I am, indeed, a wunderkind–
Don’t underestimate my mind.
And just because you cannot see,
Don’t tell me what my dreams should be
I’m bigger than your narrow view…
Don’t tell me what a girl can do!

writing for children

Out of the Bubble…

old timeyI can finally sit in the chairs on our porch again —
there’s room!

I’m sure our neighbors are glad because it was a mess.
A giant mess, indeed. It was obvious to anyone who passed by that things had piled up on the porch and needed to be addressed.

I’d avoided cleaning it for months. But it was time. So…

I got things in order.
I swept and threw away trash.
And in the process, I even found some broken glass hidden under a box. (Thankfully, I wasn’t barefooted this time!)

It felt good to step out from behind the computer and get outside in the fresh (but cold!) air and sunshine. And it really felt good to have a more peaceful porch.

The process reminded me that there is more to my life than the warm, comfy bubble that you can find me snuggled in most days.

There is far more to this life that God has created for me.
But sometimes it feels like I don’t have room for it all.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. 

Bubbles are nice for keeping out the “bad” stuff. But they can also trap us in, forcing us to breathe stagnate air that is not good for our soul. Stepping out offers fresh air and sunshine… a new perspective on things. BUT…

stepping out of our bubbles is not for the faint of heart.

If we choose to do so, we might end up on the messy “porch” that we’ve been avoiding. We might find hidden, broken things that need to be cleaned up. Things that have piled up and need to be addressed.

Maybe the brokenness is a strained friendship.
Maybe the mess is a spiritual battle we’ve been avoiding.
Or maybe it’s a combination of things we can’t even name. Things that yell at us with belittling inner dialogue — dialogue that we have allowed to replace the beautiful life-giving Word that God has been singing to our hearts.

The truth is, we can choose to run back into the warm and cozy bubbles and keep avoiding the mess and brokenness.
But the mess won’t go away on its own. No…
it will keep piling up.

I’m gonna be real.
There is still plenty on my porch (literal and spiritual) that needs to be addressed.
But I can’t do it all at once.
And I can’t do it by myself.
God is working on my blessed mess — bit by bit.
And I know that in Him – there is no judgment — no fear. Only love.

So if you’ve got a “messy porch” in your life, you’re not alone. Come on over and pull up a chair. There’s always room for one more…

#loved
#thankful
#Godisgoodallthetime
#allthetimeGodisgood

writing for children

The Choice

by Donna Earnhardt (12/6/2018)

 

The moment I choose to worry,

A tiny weed appears.

Then burrowing in my soul’s garden–

it chains me to my fears.

And worry, with talon-like fingers,

rips through my peace and joys.

It strangles my thoughts to silence my song–

Drowns hope in its chaotic noise.

 

BUT GOD…

 

The moment I choose to trust Him,

my King the Eternal High Priest,

untangles my thoughts, restores my heart-song,

and a small seed of faith is released!

God’s perfect love wields perfect power…

His perfect Love casts out all fear –

Now worry no longer can chain me

for LOVE – God Himself — has come here!

 

photo courtesy of Shiftingart Photography (http://shiftingart.com/)

 

writing for children

Some “Methodist” Ponderings —

Growing up, my family attended a small Methodist church. We went to church just about any time the doors were open.

 

On Wednesday nights, we attended Bible study/prayer meeting. During those meetings, Mr. Luke Diggs (my grandma’s first cousin) was one of the faithful folks who prayed… and prayed… and prayed. I remember thinking he must have been praying for half an hour, when really it was probably only a few minutes. I thought he was never going to stop. A few times, I even asked God to please let him finish praying so I didn’t fall asleep and get in trouble.

But back then, I didn’t realize the depth and importance of what he was doing.

Mr. Luke wasn’t talking to hear himself talk — he was petitioning God on behalf of our church family and our community. His prayers were fervent and from the depths of his soul. They were not for show. They were not offered for man’s praise. They were offered up to the God of the universe, praising God and asking for His blessing and help. There was something powerful about His prayers – and it had nothing to do with the ebb and flow of his words. It had nothing to do with the fact that he could have given any pastor a run for his money.  Rather, the power in his prayers had everything to do with his faith and relationship with the Lord. God’s Holy Spirit flowed through Mr. Luke’s words and his actions.

Then there were Sundays that we sat with our grandma (May Belle Diggs Lassiter). She always had some chewing gum in her purse and taught me and my sister (and cousins!) how to make the little flowers out of the foil wrappers. She sang in her sweet, beautiful voice and pointed to the words so we could sing along and learn to read in time. She was a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. And when we went to her house to eat, she cooked for an army – even if there were only a few more mouths to feed.

There was something soothing about being in her presence. Yes, she was an awesome cook, had the gift of hospitality, and had a precious, infectious laugh. But her soothing, peaceful spirit wasn’t rooted in those things. Nope. It was a direct result of her faith and relationship with the Lord. God’s Spirit flowed through my grandma’s words and actions. God’s love and peace flowed through who she was and what she did.

Even though both of these wonderful folks were members of the Methodist church for most (if not all) of their lives, I can declare with confidence that Methodism didn’t define who my Grandma was and it didn’t define Mr. Luke.

Instead —

the love of Jesus defined them!

And in turn, they shared that same love with those around them, acting as arrows by pointing others to Him.

There are many other folks that I could name who helped me grow in my faith (including my own parents!). I want my children to have memories like that and be able to point to certain folks in their lives and have similar faith building stories. I want them to know who they are in CHRIST. I want them to know that they are not defined by the denomination they happen to be attached to, but rather are defined by the Love of their Creator – for they are created in His image and filled with His Spirit.

I want them to know that the power in their lives has nothing to do with their job position, money, ability to lead, sing, follow, or any other earthly ability. Rather, it has everything to do with GOD’s LOVE FOR THEM. His power, flowing through them, gives them the ability to do things they could never imagine possible.

As I look back on my upbringing, I am glad that I was given a firm foundation. I was taught to keep the focus on the One Who was, Who is, And Who forever will be — Jesus. I hope that one day, I can be a light to others in the same way my grandma and Mr. Luke were for me.

As for the Methodist church? I don’t know where it is heading or what will happen in the coming years. I don’t know if I will remain a Methodist or join another denomination — but I don’t have to know. Why? Because, like the folks I was blessed with growing up, my denomination does not define me… Jesus does. The One who made me — the One who keeps me rooted in His peace — The One Who loves me. Always.

And I say with confidence —

God is good. All the time.

And all the time – God is good.

Can I get an Amen?  

Ephesians 6: 7-14

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

 

writing for children

“As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else…” 

“As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else… why not?” 

That’s the philosophy we use as human beings to justify doing the things that we want to do. If it feels good… and isn’t hurting anyone… we can find a reason to continue doing whatever it is that makes us “feel good”.

 

But just because something “feels good” doesn’t mean it is good for us, physically, spiritually, or mentally. And just because it’s not hurting us or someone else at that moment doesn’t mean it won’t down the road. Lots of things can feel good that aren’t good for us in the long run. And when we keep going down those roads that bring us a temporary “feel good” moment, we can become entangled and enslaved to those things, running further and further down the road away from freedom. We keep chasing them, looking for the next “high”. Unfortunately, those “highs” are just mirages.

 

Thankfully, God does NOT stop pursuing us. He doesn’t leave us in the holes we dig for ourselves. He doesn’t turn his back on us, even when we’ve turned our back on Him. And He doesn’t wait for us to get things “right” before He loves us. Hear that again… He doesn’t wait for us to get “cleaned up” and “right” before He loves. He loves us… period. Right where we are. He loved us before we even knew He existed… and continues to reach out to us, call us, whispering in the quiet moments that are so hard for most of us… waiting for us to accept his love. For it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance…

 

One of the hardest things is looking at where we are and admitting that it is not the right place. Admitting that we need to change direction. Admitting that we are running from the ONE who wants to help us get home. Because staying where we are and running in the same old direction is easier than turning around and admitting we need to stop and ask for different directions. Admitting we need help and admitting we are wrong can hurt. But only for a little while. It’s like pulling out a splinter or putting our broken bones in a cast. It hurts like crazy to begin with — but then, in time, healing comes.

 

Doing what we want feels good… but only for a while. It’s like riding around with no direction, no rules, nobody telling us what to do. It’s fun for a little bit. We can go where we want, do what we want, with seemingly no consequences… until we run out of gas and realize we’ve been riding around broken and lost and torn ourselves apart in the process.

 

But… God. He isn’t waiting for us to “get it right”. He makes us right. When we break down on the side of our “road”, God is right there, ready to help. He is long-suffering. He is patient. He is kind. He forgives and doesn’t throw it back in our faces. He is pursuing us, even when we are running from Him. He always knows where we are and does not give up in His love for us. He knows every thought… every word… every deed… and He loves us. He wants to give us LIFE. The good stuff. The REAL good stuff. He wants to take us on an endless road trip with Him, letting HIM be in the driver’s seat. Letting HIM fill up our gas tanks. Letting HIM be our guide and keeping us on the road that brings us LIFE.

 

Are you running? God is right there with you. He’s never left you. But maybe today is the day you stop running away from God… and run into His arms.

Luke 15:11-32 The Message (MSG)

The Story of the Lost Son

11-12 Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

12-16 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

17-20 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

25-27 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

28-30 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

31-32 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Excerpts from Romans 7:15- 20 and 8:1-39 The Message (MSG)
I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

Romans 8: Life Through the Spirit

1)Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c]And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Christian writers · Family · freedom · God · prayer · signs · thinking · writing for children

What is your “Egypt”?

Studying the Old Testament is not always the easiest thing to do. The Lord knows my heart and that I don’t always “get” what He’s trying to tell me. I have to read, read, and read again. Even then, it’s not always clear.

And from what I can tell, I’m not the only one. When God spoke through His prophets, he repeated himself again, and again, and again so His people would get the message. The passage that illustrates this point today is Jeremiah 42.

The Isrealites ask a prophet to pray for them and ask for God’s direction. They say they’ll do whatever He tells them.

God’s answer (paraphrased) — “Stay put in the land I’ve put you. I’m on your side and you have nothing to be afraid of, even though you are living smack dab in the middle of the enemy’s territory. It’s not where you wanted to be, but I put you there and I’ll protect you. I’ve heard your prayer and I’ll deliver you to where you want to go — in my time. But don’t say you want to go back to Egypt. You’ll die there. I’ll bring calamity on you. Again, do as I say and you’ll be blessed. Stick it out and do what I’ve said. You’ve romanticized where you used to be. But I’ve made it clear — DO NOT GO BACK TO EGYPT.”

(I repeat the above is my paraphrase… Read Jeremiah 42 for the actual wordage!)

So, after reading that passage several times, I asked God what He wanted ME to get out of it. I know what he was telling the Israelites. He repeats it more than 3 times in those verses.

God told the Israelites to NOT go back to Egypt — a physical place of perceived and romanticized comfort and ease. The truth is, they’d been slaves in Egypt, but all they remembered was what they wanted to remember — and were tempted to go back to the place God had saved them from. But what did it mean for me?

What in the world could he be telling me?

The exact same thing He was telling them…

Don’t go back to Egypt. 

If I run to places that God has not told me to go – whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual- they are my “Egypt”.

What is yours?

Do you return to old habits that God has freed you from?

Do you run to old relationships that brought “comfort” for a while… but didn’t bring life?

They are your “Egypt”.

When I’m upset, who do I run to? What do I run to? Where does my mind wander when things aren’t going my way? How about you? If it is anywhere other than God — That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m frustrated and angry, do I air my grievances to others before taking them to the throne? Do I try to find comfort in the world’s view of me and get its approval? How about you? That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m in a place of peace and abundance, do I forget where that peace came from and attribute it to some other source? Friends? Money? Status? Good things happening?  Do I forget to praise God in the good times? Or when I have what I need, but not what I want, do I long for something that is not in God’s plan for me? Do you? If so — we’re running away from God and running toward our “Egypt”.

Do you lay awake at night and worry about things, instead of taking them to God – and leaving those cares with Him? Yup… Egypt.

Do you try to manipulate situations so you get what you want, instead of allowing God to work things out in HIS time? That’s an Egypt, too.

I truly believe that true peace, God’s Shalom, can only be found in Him, regardless of my status in life. But does that mean that I am 100% faithful and never turn my eyes to my “Egypt” instead of Him? Nope. Too many times I’ve run back to old ways of thinking/old habits. But running backwards is not way to win the race. Paul slaps down some truth about this very thing in Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message version):

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

That means there’s no time to be running back to Egypt… and no reason to. So why do we keep doing it? Too often we turn back to the things that we used to find comfort in, conveniently forgetting that it is a “right now” comfort, not the “right” comfort.

There is an old Hymn that’s called. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I  had only heard the chorus, but there is more to it. Take note of the second verse and third verse.  If we believe those words to be true, we can rest assured that we don’t need to run back to our “Egypts”.

Here are the lyrics:

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

 

But Jesus is THE comforter. He is THE Healer. He is THE Provider. He is THE Author and Finisher of our faith.

So what are your Egypts? What do you need to leave behind so you can run forward in your faith?